Alan Ryana1

a1 Dept, of Moral Philosophy, University of Keele.

In this paper I intend to do two things. The first is to discuss a method of doing philosophy, the method of ‘ordinary language’ philosophy, as it is commonly and misleadingly called. (Its other common title: ‘Oxford Philosophy’ is even more misleading, since the roots of the method lie in Cambridge, and many of the most flourishing branches are in the United States rather than England.)If it needs a name, perhaps the best is—adapting Popper to our purpose—‘piecemeal philosophical engineering’. Such a title would emphasise the attention to detail and the caution about conclusions that characterise the best of such work. The second aim of this paper is to apply the method thus discussed and defended to three questions connected with the concept of freedom. These problems arise out of three recent discussions of freedom—Thought and Action and Spinoza and the Idea of Freedom by Professor Hampshire, and Two Concepts of Liberty by Professor Berlin.


1 This paper is substantially as read to the Moral Sciences Club at Cambridge in November 1963 and to the Jowett Society at Oxford in February 1964.